The world’s oldest running vehicle is going under the hammer.
The 1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout has a
history almost as long as its name. The steam-powered vehicle has passed
through just four sets of hands since it was built, and one of the
owners held on to it for 81 years.
A participant in the world’s first automobile race in 1887, the De Dion
reportedly managed speeds of about 60km/h (on the straight). The car
also received two awards at the 1997 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The diminutive De Dion measures just 2.7 metres in length – about the
same size as a Smart car – and seats four people “dos-a-dos”
(back-to-back). The seats are positioned above a 150-litre water tank
that feeds two compound steam engines. A tank of water is good for about
32 kilometres of travel, while its multi-fuel boiler can use either
coal or coke.
The car was commissioned by French entrepreneur Count de Dion and
built by Georges Bouton and Charles-Armand Trepardoux. It later became
known as “La Marquise” (glass canopy) after the Count’s mother.
The De Dion is expected to fetch as much as $2.5m when it is auctioned at the RM Auctions Pennsylvania sale on October 6.
“La Marquise is arguably one of the most important motor
cars in the world,” says Rob Myers of RM Auctions. “With its impeccable
provenance, fully-documented history and confirmation by leading
historians as the world’s oldest running motor car, its sale represents a
once-in-a-lifetime ownership opportunity for savvy collectors, unlikely
ever to be repeated.”